Jon’s HTPC: The Case

This is Part of Jon’s HTPC setup. For more, see: Introduction and Table of Contents

The Case:
caseI guess I’ll start by talking about the case. I designed and built the case with three things in mind. First was silence, second was unobtrusiveness to the living room, and third was easy accessibility. The second and third things were easy to account for; I built the case out of double thick MDF core and made it look like a subwoofer. When people walk into the living room they don’t see a computer anywhere, the just see a normal looking subwoofer and don’t think twice about it. For ease of accessibility, I just made the top of the sub lift off, and the first layer of internal Plexiglas (for airflow control) also just lifts out. No tools are needed. Silence was going to be the hard part. The first key to silence is good airflow, that’s because if the air can flow easily then you can use slower fans that aren’t as loud. The case is designed so the two “ports” on the top of the sub are used as an air intake. The air then goes horizontally along the first level of the case to the hard drives. The air then goes down all of the hard drives to the bottom level of the case. The air then goes back across the bottom level that contains the motherboard and out the back of the case through two more sub ports that act as an air exhaust. It’s so efficient that I am able to completely unplug the video card fan. The second key to silence is making every single fan in the case (processor, power supply, accessory fans) thermally controlled. Because the airflow is efficient, I’ve never seen any of the fans speed up above their slowest setting (which is so slow you can’t hear them). However, if a component did start to get hot for some reason, the appropriate fan would speed up accordingly to cool the component. This allows all the fans to run at very slow settings without me worrying about overheating. The third key to silence is vibration. Anything that vibrates and is also attached to the case will cause the case to amplify the noise. To overcome this problem, all the hard drives, the power supply, and all the fans (with the exception of the processor fan) are actually suspended in air by elastic. The elastic absorbs all of the vibrations and stops the noise from being amplified by the case. To finish it off, I have sound dampening material lining several parts of the interior of the case. The last thing to consider is to buy components that are naturally quiet. Some hard drives can be really really loud, instead I researched what drives are the quietest and bought those. The same goes for the power supply unit. Video card fans are also notoriously loud, so I purchased a video card that didn’t run very hot and was then able to disable the fan completely. Put all that together and you end up with a silent PC (It’s not literally silent, it’s just really really quiet). On a side note: the reason I bought that particular processor fan is because it looks a bit like the “Flex Capacitor” from Back to the Future. I’m a dork. You can see pictures of my HTPC here…

http://www.reberry.net/pictures/pictures/CompCase2/index.html

Quiet Hard Drive…
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16822152014

Quiet Power Supply…
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16817153007

Next Chapter> The UI

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